Boy From the Heath by Hebbel

The boy dreams he is being sent away
with thirty dollars to the heath place
he was killed for it on the way
even if he was not slow or inert

He still lies sweating with fear as he’s shaken
by his master who tells him to get dressed
he puts the money on his cover
and asks him why he is afraid

‘Oh master, my master, they are going to kill me
the sun, it is red like blood!’
‘It’s not like that for you alone
therefore hurry, or I’ll make you hurry!’

‘Oh master, my master, you already spoke this way
this is the face, the look, the tone,
now you’ll take’ – the stick, he’s about to say
he doesn’t say it, he already gets beaten

‘Oh master, my master, I’ll go, I’ll go
give to my mother my last goodbye
and if she searches in all the directions
she can find me at the willow tree!’

Out of the city! And there she is,
the heath, foggy, ghostly,
the winds rushing over it
‘Oh, if only one step was like a thousand!’

All is so quiet, all is so muted
in vain one looks around for things alive
only hungry birds shoot
out of clouds to skewer up worms.

He arrives at the old shepherd house
the old shepherd just looks out
the boy’s fear is even greater
at the path he still stays.

‘Oh shepherd, you are a pious man,
I have saved four good pennies
give me your farmhand to my side
to accompany me to the village!

I want to give them to him, he shall
drink a good beer for them on next Sunday,
this money here, I carry it with fear,
in my dream I was killed for it!’

The shepherd signals to the tall farmhand
who just was cutting himself a walking stick
now he comes out – oh! The horror
of the boy as he looks at him!

‘Oh, master shepherd, oh no, oh no,
after all it’s better if I go alone!’
The tall one speaks, grinning, to the old one
‘He wants to keep his four pennies.’

‘Here are the four pennies!’ he throws them down
and runs away with a disturbed mind
already he can see the willow,
when the farmhand taps his back.

‘You won’t endure this, you’re walking too fast,
oh, more haste, less speed, you are still a child,
also, the money must be heavy on you,
who can refuse you a rest!

Come, site under the willow tree
and tell me the ugly dream
I dreamed – God shall damn me,
if it does not coincide with yours!’

He took the boy by the hand,
who didn’t resist any more,
the leaves whisper so eerily,
the water trickles so sadly!

‘Now tell, you were dreaming’ – ‘There was a man’ –
‘Was that me? Have a close look at me,
I think you have already seen me?
Go on, how did it happen?’

‘He pulled a knife!’ – ‘Was it like this one?’
‘Oh yes, oh yes!’ – ‘He pulled it?’ – ‘And pushed’ –
‘He must have slashed your throat like this?
To what end shall I torture you!’

And do you ask what happened next?
Then ask two birds who were sitting nearby,
the raven stayed rather cheerily,
the dove could not go on!

The raven tells what more the bad one did
and also how the henchman smelled it,
the dove tells about how the boy
had cried and prayed.

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